The term D.U.I. to many people simply implies the meaning of driving under the influence of alcohol, but a new bill proposed to the California Congress looks to tackle the issue of drugged driving.
This legislation, Senate Bill No. 289, will make it a crime for a crime for people with any trace amounts of drugs classified in Schedules I, II, III, and IV of the California Uniform Controlled Substance Act to be behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Yes on paper it looks good and is easy to agree with Senator Lou Correa, who is campaigning heavily for this bill, that being impaired by any drug is dangerous when driving, but there are too many problems that arise.
The one that jumps right out front is the fact how is an officer supposed to test the person on the spot for drugs.
Are officers going to have to arrest individuals, tow their vehicles, take them back to their station, wait for results from a drug test and then charge or release them?
It seems like too much of a hassle for any officer let alone the police station to go through such extensive processes with the high possibility of letting an individual go.
Sure if the driver was in an accident then it would be deemed appropriate, but for someone who is driving a little too carelessly, this is definitely going overboard.
If there is to be a device to do the testing out on the field, can it be accurate to test that individual’s current sobriety.
For instance, if an individual is tested positive for marijuana, how can the arresting officer be certain that the person is high right then and there or if they may be completely sober but still have the drug in their system.
Some over the counter drugs like Sudafed and Nyquil can give false positives for meth because of certain ingredients used in both drugs. Other drugs like marijuana can stay in your body days after usage providing a positive test for the drug, but the individual may not be impaired.
An easy solution may be an impairment test similar to ones used in cases of alcohol. However, the question then becomes, can it still be effective for the listed drugs that can increase focus like cocaine or other stimulants.
Another problem with this bill is that it makes exceptions for drugs with prescriptions and over the counter drugs, those classified in Schedule V, due to their low dosages.
Though they have a low potential for abuse, people can still be easily impaired by these drugs and the accessibility is far easier than any other drugs classified in Schedules I-IV.
Currently Senate Bill No. 289 is in session undergoing deliberation and should not be passed by California Congress. This piece of legislation is going into the right direction but its fine details need to be hammered out going forward.
If the bill were to pass our California government has to define these new rulings when it comes to individual rights, and be able to fund law enforcement appropriately to be able to implement the new procedures that will follow.
To read Fahema Kakar’s take on the issue, check out this article.